Monday, March 29, 2010

Retirees Heading Back to School for Encore Careers

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado PR Manager

The Chinese thinker and social philosopher Confucius famously said “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

All too often these words of wisdom are lost as people grow from dreaming children to working adults. People lose sight of what they love to do and pursue careers for the wrong reasons. When they add a car, a house and family to their lives, the thought of starting a new career may seem irresponsible and becomes more difficult to pursue.

Valley resident Leonard Quimby is someone who falls into the category of people who pursued a career for the wrong reasons. Unlike those who stay in their jobs, Quimby decided to join a large group of retired individuals who are taking advantage of online learning to change careers and pursue a job that they love.

Leonard Quimby is not your usual retiree. He is only 42 years old, and his strong work ethics lead him to a series of promotions and eventually a CEO position. Regardless of his success, he was not happy with his career path and decided to make a change.

“I was extremely bored with where I was in life,” said Quimby, of Gilbert. “I was semi-retired, and I was looking for a way to re-engage, but I wanted to make sure it was something that I had a real passion to do. If I had a real passion to do what I was doing before I retired, I would still be doing it.”

Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, Quimby reflected back on everything he has done in life and realized that working with kids brought him a lot of satisfaction.

“I knew I wanted to be in some sort of classroom teaching setting,” said Quimby. “I’ve been a coach, a court appointed special advocate to oversee foster children, and being involved with kids and kid’s causes is what I want to do.”

After deciding to pursue a new career path, his research led him to the Teacher Certification Program at Tempe-based Rio Salado College.

“I chose online classes so I can get it done as quickly as I want,” said Quimby, who is slated to complete his certification in May. “I’m under my time schedule, not the teacher’s [schedule].”

Having a flexible schedule was just one of the deciding factors that led him to taking classes at a community college.

“You have a public education cost, which is a great value, and it’s all under your own terms,” he said.

As Quimby takes classes, he continues to reflex back on his previous work to find ways to bring real-world examples to the classroom.

“Some advantages that people have in life, set them up to do something exactly like this,” said Quimby.

He believes anybody willing to take a chance can successfully pursue a new career in the same way he has gone about it.

“You can go after anything you want. With the way [Rio Salado College] programs are structured, anyone can go after what they want,” he said. “It’s their own fear that’s holding them back. The flexibility the program has eliminates the excuses of people getting educated to do the things they want to do.”

“All too often people don’t live life, life lives them,” he added.